For the last 10 months or so, we’ve been digging into the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 to learn more about the acts who scored but one chart hit, one chart position at a time. We’re continuing with Number 92, which has consumed plenty of our time so far, and we won’t be done even when this post is through. (Find the whole series here.)
“What’s Your Name”/Andy & David Williams (6/29/74, four weeks). It shouldn’t have taken The Partridge Family TV series to make stars of Andy and David Williams. They were nephews of singer Andy Williams and fixtures on his TV specials, and had already made at least one album under the tutelage of Partridge Family producer Wes Farrell before being cast in a final-season episode of the show. But that appearance gave them enough of a boost to chart “What’s Your Name,” even though it was neither the song they sang on the show nor the kind of thing they would record in later years—music sometimes compared to Bruce Hornsby or REM.
“(Everybody Wants to Find a) Bluebird”/Randy Edelman (3/29/75, four weeks). Edelman has scored plenty of films and TV shows over the years, but during the mid-70s he was a cult singing star in Britain, and recorded several albums of singer/songwriter pop backed by top session musicians. (Among the songs he wrote: Barry Manilow’s hit “Weekend in New England.”) “Bluebird” is just catchy enough so that you can imagine it on the radio, but not catchy enough so that you’re surprised it didn’t chart very high.
“All Right Now”/Lea Roberts (4/19/75, three weeks). Roberts was from Dayton, Ohio, and made a couple of albums in the mid 1970s and one more in the early 80s. She recorded a version of “Laughter in the Rain” that was released as a single before Neil Sedaka’s. When hers started to get noticed, Sedaka rushed out his own version—which is vastly inferior to Lea’s—and blew her off the radio. I will not say her version of “All Right Now” is better than the original by Free, but you can listen to it just as loud, and I recommend that you do.
“What Time of Day”/Billy Thunderkloud (7/12/75, three weeks). If I told you that the full name of this group was Billy Thunderkloud and the Chieftones, you would guess that they were Indians, and you’d be right. If I told you their album was called Off the Reservation, you might not be surprised. “What Time of Day” was a modest hit on the American country charts and in Canada, the group’s home country. If you share my general aversion to children’s choruses, click the link at your own risk.
After the jump: a late 70s smorgasbord of disco, R&B, singer/songwriter pop, and new wave—and a couple of mp3s.
“Love Bug”/Bumble Bee Unlimited (1/8/77, five weeks). The disco tide washed in loads of producer-driven creations played and sung by anonymous performers. In the case of “Love Bug,” the anonymous singers seem to have been on helium. The 45 was cut down to 2:30 from the seven-minute original, and thank goodness.
“Good Thing Man”/Frank Lucas (7/2/77, three weeks). This was the first release for the record label ICA, founded by Al Bell after the implosion of Stax. Various web citations say “Good Thing Man” sold a million copies, and ever after, Frank Lucas has called himself “the Good Thing Man.”
“It Ain’t Love”/Tom Powers (11/5/77, five weeks). There’s precious little information to be found about Tom Powers. One source says he’s from Detroit; another says he eventually landed in Phoenix. “It Ain’t Love” puts me in mind of England Dan and John Ford Coley or Dan Hill, at least until the horns kick in.
“Miss Broadway”/Belle Epoque (4/1/78, four weeks). Belle Epoque was a French trio who did a Eurodisco version of Los Bravos’ “Black Is Black.” They followed it with “Miss Broadway,” on which the singers do not so much sing as harangue. It hits a pretty good groove, though, and was a substantial hit on the dance charts.
“Back in My Arms Again”/Genya Ravan (8/26/78, three weeks). Genya and her parents barely escaped the Nazis at the end of World War II, when she was just a baby. She kicked around the music business as a girl, eventually forming Ten Wheel Drive, a jazz/rock band inspired by Blood Sweat and Tears, which lasted from 1969 to 1972. After a string of solo albums, Genya’s 1978 album Urban Desire was her commercial breakthrough. “Back in My Arms Again” is a Supremes cover, a mix of scorching guitars and Joplinesque vocals, and was a bit much for pop radio in the summer of ’78.
Next time, whenever that is: We spend more time in the 80s than in any other installment of this series, with more TV stars making records, and more Canadians.